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Henry Hynoski, New York Giants (August 22, 2014)

Henry Hynoski – © USA TODAY Sports Images

NEW YORK GIANTS 35 – NEW YORK JETS 24
It may have just been a blip, but for the first time this preseason the New York Giants’ offense showed life.

Was it pretty all the time? No. In fact, it was downright ugly at points. But it was progress and at this point, that’s all Tom Coughlin, Eli Manning, Victor Cruz and others can ask for.

Victor Cruz, New York Giants (August 22, 2014)

Victor Cruz – © USA TODAY Sports Images

STUDS:

Victor Cruz

The catchless Victor Cruz has been the go-to punchline for the Giants for nearly the entire preseason. Ben McAdoo’s offense is supposed to fit Cruz’s talents to a ‘T,’ but through three games the receiver hadn’t caught a pass that didn’t end in a fumble. It didn’t take long for Eli Manning to get Cruz the ball, in fact it came on the first play. After that, Manning went back to Cruz again and again. When the night was over, Cruz had a team-high four receptions for a team-high 61 yards.

Damontre Moore

The second-year defensive end finished with four tackles and two sacks, but what was more impressive than anything was the fact his first two possessions in the third quarter came playing against the Jets’ starting offensive line. Moore chased down Michael Vick (no easy task) for a sack on the first play of the second half, then recovered a fumble one play later. Again, working against the starters, the next series, Moore recorded a tackle for a loss on Chris Johnson. Moore has proven he can dominate a team’s second-string left tackle, a task he should be able to accomplish. On Friday he showed he can be a good player versus the starters, too.

Preston Parker

The Giants love versatile players. The more you can do, the more the team fawns over you. Parker is beginning to earn that reputation with the Giants. The receiver can return kicks and punts, but Friday he showed he can make plays as a receiver, too. Parker caught three passes for 52 yards including a 39-yard touchdown on a bomb from Ryan Nassib. Parker reached out and made a finger-tip grab. With the injury to Marcus Harris – and struggles of Jerrel Jernigan – Parker may have earned himself a spot on the Giants’ 53-man roster.

Cullen Jenkins

Jenkins put a huge hit on Geno Smith early in the game and pressured the quarterback countless other times. Last year, Jenkins was one of the more underrated players on the Giants’ roster and looks to have built off that season and is looking good in Perry Fewell’s scheme.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

Maybe it was because he scorned the team to sign with the Giants, but the Jets went at Rodgers-Cromartie time and time again. The result? Nothing. DRC made two huge pass breakups, including a beautiful one on Eric Decker in the end zone. He did get called for a defensive holding, but then again, who doesn’t nowadays?

Ryan Nassib, New York Giants (August 22, 2014)

Ryan Nassib – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Ryan Nassib

In preseason and training camp, I was one of Ryan Nassib’s biggest critics. I ripped him when he played poorly and truthfully saw little to instill faith that he had a future in the NFL. The last two weeks, he’s made me a believer. Nassib was accurate, showed a strong arm and extended plays with his legs. I’d like to see him play with the starters because honestly, I’m starting to think the Giants have found their quarterback of the future.

DUDS:

Jerrel Jernigan

The front office likes Jerrel Jernigan. The coaching staff…not so much. Jernigan didn’t help his cause after all but being called out by Giants’ Coach Tom Coughlin earlier this week. The former third-round pick dropped an easy one on third down for the Giants which caused the punt team to come on. Jernigan played very well at the end of last season, but he has not carried that over into 2014. The Giants have started to work Marcus Harris, Preston Parker and Corey Washington into the lineup more frequently, possibly to see if others are a better fit than Jernigan.

Geoff Schwartz

I know, it’s a wrong to pick on someone who was carted off the field. But prior to his injury, Schwartz was downright dreadful. Muhammad Wilkerson manhandled the Giants prized free-agent acquisition and put constant pressure on Eli Manning. There were a few times New York’s franchise quarterback was running for his life. The culprit? Pressure right up the middle and past Schwartz.

Charles James II

Giving up a long completion down the sideline, a touchdown and then getting a personal foul…not good for a player on the roster bubble. If you didn’t know anything about the Giants, you’d think James was an All-Pro with the way he carries himself. That’s great, but his play needs to match it. Tonight it didn’t. Truth is, aside form his voice, James hasn’t done much to stand out in a cornerback group littered with talent.

Eli Manning, New York Giants (August 22, 2014)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

THE GOOD:

Drive to End the Half

Driving 91 yards in 11 plays is nice. Doing it in one minute and 48 seconds? Wow. For one series..and literally that’s it…Ben McAdoo’s system worked. Seriously! It looked like a real offense. We outlined the drive specifically in our game recap.

Eli Manning

I saw some positive things from Eli Manning, but not enough to make him a ‘Stud.’ The result? He falls into “the good” category. Manning completed 12-of-21 passes for 139 yards with a touchdown. His quarterback rating was 93.2 percent and he hit Rueben Randle for a nice 26-yard gain down the sideline. The reason he isn’t a ‘Stud’ is simply because he still doesn’t look like has faith behind the Giants offensive line. Then again, can anyone blame him? He also made a poor decision on a throw to Cruz that was almost intercepted.

Devon Kennard

Another strong outing for the rookie 5th round pick. Kennard led the team in tackles with seven.

THE UGLY:

Offensive Line

Skipping ‘The Bad’ and going straight to the ugly, the Giants offensive line was downright brutal again. The Jets’ starters manhandled them and had Manning running for his life on multiple occasions. The fact Geoff Schwartz is now out certainly doesn’t bode well.

The Penalties

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, New York Giants (August 22, 2014)

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Enough is enough because it really is getting out of hand. Twenty total were called and nine resulted in first downs. That’s not including the ones that were declined. There were some that I saw that I agreed with, but not 20 of them. Something needs to give because it’s getting out of hand.

The Injuries

We outlined some of the more serious injuries here, but the Giants were hit hard. Zack Bowman (triceps), Geoff Schwartz (toe), Marcus Harris (shoulder) and Markus Kuhn (lower leg) all left with injuries and Schwartz and Harris seem to be serious. The Giants need to stay healthy, but tonight wasn’t a healthy outing.

The Defense and Missed Tackles

The biggest and most glaring issue that I saw with the Giants’ defense was the missed tackles. It didn’t matter if it was Chris Ivory or Chris Johnson, nor did it matter the defender, the Giants were lacking in their tackling fundamentals and the Jets made them pay. Jason Pierre-Paul missed tackles, Jacquian Williams, Mark Herzlich and many others. The Jets ran for 146 yards on 32 carries (4.6 yards per carry) versus the Giants’ defense. Not to mention, every Jets quarterback had a rating over 100 percent.

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Eli Manning, New York Giants (August 22, 2014)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

This was what it was all supposed to look like, even if it was just for one series.

Eli Manning had time to throw, his receivers were getting open and the Giants were marching down the field. There was the catchless Victor Cruz catching passes. There was Will Beatty containing Quinton Coples. There was Weston Richburg keeping Sheldon Richardson in check.

Finally, there was Manning finding Rueben Randle for a 15-yard touchdown with all day to throw in the pocket.

This is what the Giants offense was supposed to look like. Even if it was just a glimpse in the Giants’ 35-24 victory over the New York Jets, it was something to instill hope into a fan base desperate for anything positive.

“We finally got into a pretty good rhythm and everything just worked,” Manning said, “instead of always having something go wrong or a penalty or a sack or something to back us up and keep us from sustaining drives. We were able to stay out of harm’s way and make some plays.”

Victor Cruz, New York Giants (August 22, 2014)

Victor Cruz – © USA TODAY Sports Images

After going 1-of-9 in his last two games, Manning completed 12-of-21 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown versus the Jets. Cruz caught four passes for 61 yards and Rashad Jennings rushed for 67 yards on 13 carries.

But before Manning marched the Giants down the field on a near-perfect drive, the team looked every bit as awful as it had during its first three preseason games. Each of the Giants first five possessions ended in a punt. Manning was pressured, the blocking was invisible and there seemed to be no offensive cohesion.

“I think we started off a little rough,” Cruz said, “but once we got the thing rolling, we were able to put some first downs together and get things going a little bit.”

To begin the second half, Ryan Nassib replaced Manning at quarterback and built off his strong outing a week ago versus the Indianapolis Colts. The second-year pro completed 8-of-12 passes for 103 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. He had a quarterback rating of 133.0.

“I thought we did pretty well as an offense in the second half,” Nassib said. “The o-line did a great job protecting up front which allowed me to get those shots deep down the field.”

Nassib connected with Henry Hynoski on a three-yard touchdown, hit Preston Parker for a 39-yard score and Corey Washington for a 31-yard strike. Not bad for a player who was relegated to the third team a week ago after struggling in the Giants first two preseason games.

“The game’s starting to slow down,” Nassib said. “That, and being in the system a little bit longer, but there’s still a lot to get better at, a lot to learn and a lot more stuff to correct.”

Defensively, defensive end Damontre Moore continued his strong preseason. Last year’s third-round pick recorded two sacks, four tackles and one fumble recovery. On his first possession of the second half, Moore chased down Jets quarterback Michael Vick for his first sack.

“He’s one of the pioneers of the whole scrambling quarterback thing,” Moore said. “To attack him, a guy I’ve watched and played with on Madden, it was a big honor.”

The Giants starting defense didn’t share in Moore’s same success. Versus the Jets starters, the Giants missed tackles, allowed Geno Smith to march the team up and down the field and committed four penalties that kept Jets’ drives alive.

Smith completed 9-of-14 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown. Running backs Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson combined to rush for 92 yards on 15 carries, an average of 6.13 yards per carry.

“Their offensive line performed well,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. “They rushed the ball, but in the second half, our group came out and hung in there, made some plays and got the ball down the field.”

Video highlights/lowlights of the game are available at NFL.com.

Aug 232014
 
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Geoff Schwartz, New York Giants (August 3, 2014)

Geoff Schwartz – © USA TODAY Sports Images

There was so much promise shown in the New York Giants 35-24 victory over the New York Jets Friday night in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Eli Manning was completing passes and Victor Cruz was catching them. The offense was looking like, well, an offense and second-year pro defensive end Damontre Moore was getting after the quarterback. But with the strides the team took forward, there were two big steps back.

Training camp hero wide receiver Marcus Harris left the game midway through the second quarter and headed to the locker room with a shoulder injury. Shortly after, starting left guard Geoff Schwartz was carted off of the field.

Tests confirmed some of the Giants’ fears. Harris suffered an injury to the AC joint injury in his shoulder and will be sidelined at least three-to-four weeks. Schwartz dislocated his big toe. Both players will have MRIs tomorrow to determine a more detailed analysis of their injuries. Both players could be out weeks, months, or the season depending on if there is structural damage.

“We got a couple of guys hurt tonight and that’s very upsetting,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin.

When asked how serious the injury was to Schwartz, Coughlin responded, “Pretty serious. Hard to play with a toe that’s not functioning.”

“I’m not worried about anything, you just pray about it,” Harris said. “It’s football, injuries occur, you know? It just happened to be me today.”

Marcus Harris, New York Giants (August 3, 2014)

Marcus Harris – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Harris injured himself on a screen pass, his only reception of the game. After catching the pass, Harris attempted to stiff-arm a defender. When he did, a second defender came in from behind and wrapped him up and brought Harris to the ground. Because his arms were constrained, Harris was unable to brace himself for the hit and landed directly on his shoulder.

The second-year pro was in noticeable pain after the game. He had a brace on his arm and was walking gingerly around the Giants locker room. While Schwartz has his roster spot all but locked up, Harris has been fighting for a position on the Giants final 53-man roster. In a positional group that’s already deep and featuring names such as Corey Washington, Jerrel Jernigan and Preston Parker, Harris’ injury will likely keep him out for the season opener versus the Detroit Lions.

If healthy, Harris would be a logical choice. He can play outside, the slot and special teams. Now? That position is up in the air.

“I think I’ve done enough this summer,” Harris said. “Hopefully (The Giants) feel the same and keep me around.”

While Schwartz is in no jeopardy of getting cut, his injury puts another question mark on an offensive line that is filled with them. In Schwartz’s absence, rookie second-round pick Weston Richburg filled in. If Richburg replaces Schwartz in his absence, which is expected, lining up next to him will be Will Beatty, a player who’s recovering from a fractured leg. To the right? J.D. Walton, a player who hasn’t played in a regular season game in over a year.

At right guard is Brandon Mosley, a player with one career start. Next to him? Justin Pugh, a second-year pro who has struggled a bit this preseason.

The questions keep mounting…and the season keeps getting closer.

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